Sphero Wasn’t Actually Behind the BB-8

Despite quite a few articles stating Sphero was behind the technology that made the real movie BB-8 droid, like this Tech Crunch article:

Sphero, makers of the eponymous spherical robots that you control with your smartphone — as well as the new BB-8 droid in Star Wars: The Force Awakens

and this excerpt from Fortune Magazine:

The same underlying technology (made by Sphero), which was licensed to create the version of BB-8 that graced the stage at the Star Wars Celebration…

Heck, even we drank the jungle juice with our original coverage! But now it seems the truth is finally coming out. As it turns out, it was actually built in Pinewood by the Creature Animatronics (CFX) team which includes [Matt Denton] — He’s the guy who built the Mantis Robot. A hacker / engineer — not a big toy company.

Two articles released this week on StarWars.com and EmpireOnline.com name various people from the CFX team at Pinewood as having built the movie puppets and the real BB-8. No mention of Sphero at all of course. They also state that they had to come up with the technology from scratch and that nothing like it already existed.

The analysis here is that basically Disney has a share holding in Sphero — they have now received $81 million of external investment off the back of it, so it’s ultimately all about the bottom line. The information about Sphero being behind the real BB-8, which neither Disney or Sphero had previously denied, was kicked off by the statement during the footage of the real BB-8 on stage that “it was all made possible by Bob Iger”. [Bob] is the CEO of Disney and brought Sphero into his accelerator program for start-ups. Obviously it’s taken until now for the CFX team to get any credit whatsoever for building BB-8.

The funny thing is, some of the news outlets have started to change the story concerning Sphero/BB-8, like this article about the new Sphero toy, covered by Gizmodo — conveniently edited over night (you’ll have to take our word for it), to no longer state that Sphero was behind the technology for the real BB-8:

It was rumored that Sphero, a company that’d been been making remote control robotic balls for years, was behind the real-life version of BB-8. It wasn’t, but that didn’t stop the toy world rumor-mill from also getting excited about Sphero possibly turning its existing robotic toy ball into a miniature version of BB-8. And good news for Star Wars fans—at least some of those rumors turned out to be true.

It’s unfortunate that big companies like this will take credit for something that they did not do, but we’re happy to see the truth coming out of the wood work.

And regardless of BB-8’s origins, which we’ve confirmed is definitely not Sphero tech, the new toy Sphero did release is pretty darn cool:

25 thoughts on “Sphero Wasn’t Actually Behind the BB-8

  1. At first I was excited and thought they used the R/C version for the movie… nope. For the movie they used puppets. The R/C version was built after the movie was filmed. Mildly anti-climactic but still a very cool story. I was probably the only one who didn’t know that tid-bit as well since it wasn’t mentioned in the HAD article. :-(

  2. I think what’s more troubling is that other press outlets (HaD took the high road here) decided they would try to lie about their mistakes rather than take the ethical route and note their edits. It’s a growing trend unfortunately.

      1. Likely it happens because fewer and fewer articles are written by true journalists these days. So much of what we read on the internet is simply stuff written by someone with a keyboard, blogs are the new news.

  3. I think that makers can make their choice whether they want to sell what they make, release it into the public domain or work on a contract basis. If they work on a contract basis then they are usually at the mercy of their contracting employer to give them credit for their work. The telltale here was that it was the CEO taking the credit. I think that speaks more to the ethics and mentality of the CEO and is not respectful to the maker.

    1. I’d wait until the movie releases, that’s when proper credit is attributed. Media (Movies, TV, Advertising, etc) has a habit of “preserving the magic” so there is plenty of “let them think it, we wont confirm or deny” because the endless speculation keeps the conversation turning.

  4. Welcome to Droidgate 2015 ;) In my own defense, I used a few qualifying words to say we weren’t sure who made the robot onstage back in April. I am glad Disney’s cone of silence has been lifted. The CFX team will will finally get the recognition they deserve.

      1. Not true. The technology behind the toy came way before the movie through Orbotix Corp which became Sphero. This was paramount technology for robotics and the patents were passed in 2008 and 2010.

    1. As useless as posting something as negative as that?
      Hardly…
      If watching that toy “exploring” the world doesn’t bring a smile to your face you are probably someone who hates puppies too…

  5. I bought a few on rollout. Of course, tomorrow when I go back to work, one of them will be dissected in our lab. As far as real world applications…hmmm…

    If they are buoyant and can hold a good size payload and be self balancing, they’d make a good lifeboat for drowning “immigrants”.

    Make it about 1/16 of its current size with a camera, it could spy on things in a hostage situation.

    And it does already have a real world purpose. I took one to the dog park this weekend… there are several dogs that need fido Xanax after their first “encounter”. Cats? Meh… who cares? LOL.

    Make a bigger one and there are probably other applications.

      1. Orbotix out of the U.K. holds the patients passed in 2008 and 2010 for the technology behind the robotics engineering. Orbotix ran by Ian Bernstein founded Sphero in Colorado. My name was legally changed in 2001 out of Marin county superior court and any person who has to result to insults is obviously a jealous man baby. I also have the original napkin sketches as they have been posted online since 2008. As I was removed from my biological family at the age of 2 and 1/2 I grew up with the name Pedigo until I was 17 and a half. Changed it to Iger when I left home and then under the orders of Lucasfilm had it legally changed. If you would like to see my paperwork you are more than welcome to but I have a feeling you are too much of a man baby to act like an adult.

        1. Whatever patent you’re looking at has nothing to do with the Film BB-8, and Sphero/Ian Bernstein would and have confirmed this. Also the original drawing was not on a napkin, but a post-it note. The Napkin theory was simply a miss-quote! Move on…

          1. Matt:
            “Robbie Iger” is a deluded liar – he has no connection to BB-8 or Lucasfilm. He has no legitimate paperwork to back up his fantasy, and the “napkin sketch” he refers to is a fraud.
            His story about his “legal” name change is another fiction – he was arrested in Sarasota, FL last year and spent some time in jail until his actual real name, Robert Pedigo. Look up case #2017CT005905NC (uniform case #582017CT005905XXXANC) in Sarasota County, FL – he is, in fact, exactly what I said he was.

  6. This is why the story on BB-8 has changed.. this is why they called me the anonymous animator in the interview for screen crush .. this is why BB-8 changed to a male and this is why they are claiming differently now on many things including where the stories and outlines came from to Bob Igers middle name spelling. I was working for Disney while creating for lucasfilm under bad robot before Disney acquired lucasfilm with a stacked and secured content loaded up in secret under NDA’s. I have not only legal documents proving I was working under the name Bob Iger as far back as 2000 but also have documents proving my connection to Disney. Did I mention Disney is sovereign and so are all it’s parks ? You know this because of what you were.. another piece to the LEGO castle you been trying to take down..

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